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Plant fights back: a kiwellin disarms the metabolic activity of a fungal effector

Plants are under constant attack by pathogens. To protect themselves, plants produce an array of defense proteins. Kiwellins are a family of secreted plant proteins that are common in many plant species. However, their biological functions remain largely unknown. An exception is Kwl1 from kiwi fruit, which acts as a human allergen. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology and collaborators at the LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology (Synmikro) in Marburg and the Faculty of Biology of the Philipps-Universität Marburg have described a biological function to a plant kiwellin for the first time. They detected a maize kiwellin that specifically inhibits the chorismate mutase activity of the U. maydis effector Cmu1. This finding highlights that kiwellins contribute to plant defense against a fungal pathogen. more

Corn smut has undergone a specialized evolution for virulence

Smut fungi are pathogens that parasitize mainly grass plants including economically important cereals like maize. Most smut pathogens cause disease symptoms only in the flowers of their host plants. An exception is Ustilago maydis, a fungus inducing tumor formation and anthocyanin accumulation in all above ground organs of maize (Figure 1). Anthocyanin formation allows the fungus to spread efficiently in the infected tissue. It is unclear how U. maydis has acquired such a unique pathogenic lifestyle. more

Protection of [Fe]-hydrogenase

Protection of [Fe]-hydrogenase

November 26, 2018

Hydrogenase enzymes catalyze production and utilization of hydrogen gas, which is considered as a future energy carrier. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg and a collaborator at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics discovered that [Fe]-hydrogenase is protected by conformational change of the protein. This finding is crucial for future application of hydrogenases and for understanding the catalytic mechanism of this enzyme. more

Type IV effector complexes: components of the last elusive CRISPR-Cas type

Bacteria utilize CRISPR-Cas systems to defend themselves against viral attacks. Six major CRISPR-Cas Types have been classified based on the presence of signature proteins.  Five of these six types are characterized well. Scientists of the Max Planck Society have now uncovered the components of the elusive type IV system, which include a novel CRISPR-RNA nuclease. The funcional roles of these discovered Type IV effector complexes are suggested to be found outside of viral defense. more

World’s smallest chemical reactor – Built from a single protein inside bacteria

In a living cell, hundreds to thousands different chemical reactions take place in parallel. However, many chemical reactions produce reactive or toxic compounds that could harm or even kill a cell. How do organisms protect themselves against such toxic intermediates? Now, scientists from the Max Planck Society discovered that some cells produce proteinaceous nano-reactors inside which they perform hazardous chemical reactions. more

Marburger iGEM team wins competition in Boston

Students of Philipps-Universität Marburg and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology won the international competition in the field of Synthetic Biology more

Designer cells swallow up the greenhouse gas CO<sub>2</sub>

Marburg research group receives EUR 1.5 million from the Volkswagen Foundation to research new CO2 conversion methods more

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